Sustainable Development and Climate Change

Dr. K. M. George

Former UN Advisor;

CEO  & President,

Sustainable Development Forum

Email: melmana@gmail.com

Mobile: 99 49 67 08 87

Abstract:

Sustainable development is a catch phrase and the new paradigm of development. It meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is economic development that is conducted without depletion of natural resources. The debate about climate change mitigation is a new policy thrust area. Since the inception of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the key treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol-1995, climate change has become a problem of the global community demanding collective and concerted action. Sadly it has failed to reduce green housegas (GHG) emissions. Thus it has failed the most vulnerable communities across the world. SDGs aim to provide better lives for people in poor countries in terms of human development index. It increases income and employment. There are 17 SDGs as compared to eight under the erstwhile MDGs. It is known as Agenda 2030.It applies to all 193 countries with its 169 targets.

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Acknowledgments: Acknowledging the help received from others is a difficult task. I am deeply indebted to Mr.  Kannan K. (Former Director of ADB); Rev. Dr. Abraham Mulamootil (Chairman – peacepeopleplanet.org); Dr.  M.C. George & Dr. N. P. Kurup for the comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

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GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

 

There are a few cross cutting issues in SDGs like women and gender equality, education, gender, technology, etc. It is said that there are competing goals and very many confusing goals under SDGs. It can be achieved with wider participation of member countries along with NGOs, GROs and GRSOs with horizontal and vertical linkages.

Climate is the weather of a place and may differ from season to season. While weather changes in a few hours, climate may change over hundreds of years due to many   factors including human interventions. Biggest environmental risk is air pollution. It happens due to population explosion, resource depletion and overreliance on fossil fuel. Climate  changes  may cause floods, landslides,  tsunamis, earth  quakes, fire, coastal erosion, cyclones, sea  level  rise, droughts,  avalanches, cloud  bursting, crop damages  due to increased pest  attacks, etc. To counter it scientists and economists may design DICE—dynamic integrated model of climate and the economy to sort out emissions and to encourage geo engineering among others.   Efforts for planting   more trees as a social mission or movement must be embarked up on. Conscious  efforts  are  required  to ban vehicle  emissions; to include climate changes in the curriculum  of  students and  to harness  synergies  that exist between  climate change and  sustainable development. Again encourage  to make use of  artificial intelligence to help  farmers jointly with ICRISAT  and  Micro Soft  sowing App. Students  may be made  ambassadors to propagate the ill effects of  climate  change by  using less  water and less energy. Resilience building in social- ecological systems is the need of the hour. Regional economic organisations like KEA along with NGOs, GROs and GRSOs may be profitably utilised in the design of integrated responses and to exploit synergies between climate change and other polices like bio diversity among others, as proactive   partners to mitigate this menace.

Key words:

Sustainable  development; economic  development; human development; quality  of life; Sustainable  development  goals; millennium development  goals; NGOs; GROs; GRSOs;  climate  change; air pollution; global  warming; artificial intelligence; mitigation strategy; resilience; regional organisations; synergies; biodiversity; Kyoto Protocol; green  gas emissions; knowledge   society; primary  sector;  affluent  society; marginal  cost-marginal  returns.

 

Main Paper:

1.0 The process of development means many things contextually. It means maturing, enlargement, expansion, progressively expanding, blooming etc. This leads us to the latest catch phrase namely sustainable development. It is being embraced as the new paradigm of development.

2.0 Sustainable   development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is aimed at conducting development without depletion of natural resources. It is assumed to provide adequate fillip for meeting human development goals. It includes health, nutrition, education, clean   water, and environment to mention a few such parameters. As such it demands international polices to be evolved to support this process and its augmentation.

3.0 In international parlance, it is the felt need and means to provide better lives for people in poor countries. Thus, the physical and economic, stainable development aims to bring about positive   changes like addition of environmental and social   components.

The very purpose of development is to raise the level and quality of life of people. In simple language, it means further creation and expansion of income and employment.

4.0 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Closely  on the  heel  of  the discernible impact of the implementation of the  Millennium Development  Goals (MDGs), it  was  collectively  decided  by  the  UN to  bring about dimensional change in its  new  avatar now known as  SDGs. While MDGs had only eight goals, SDGs have 17goals with 169 targets.

5.0 The MDGs have, overall, been remarkably successful in focusing attention and mobilizing resources to address the major gaps in human development. Some of the MDGs’ key targets, such as halving the global poverty rate, were met by 2015. However, achieving the health goals was difficult under the MDGs, as Africa lagged behind other parts of the world, despite the substantial progress it has made since 2000. The consortium of organizations led by the Korea Development Institute (KDI) prepared report to examine the targets that have been met and considers the global implications of the remaining unmet goals. It concluded that the global community must build on the MDGs experience for moving beyond meeting basic human needs in order to promote dynamic, inclusive and sustainable development.

6.0 The SDGs cover a broad range of social and economic development issues. It is known as, “Transforming our world”. It is also known as—“Agenda 2030”.  While  the SDGs  cover all  countries of the  world-193 –its  predecessor, the  MDGs focused on  the  developed and  developing  nations  separately.

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  1. Improve maternal health
  2. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  3. Ensure environmental sustainability
  4. Develop a global partnership for development

 

7.0   SDGs List

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

 

8.0 Criticism of SDGs

SDGs have many competing goals. There are too many goals to meet. Besides, it has high cost of achieving the stated SDG goals. But there are several cross cutting issues like women and gender equality; education and gender, technology issues.

9.0 Based on reports, there are few supporting organisations for the successful implementation of the SDGs at country level. They include NGOs, Grass Roots Organisations (GROs) as well as Grass Roots Support Organisations (GRSOs). In fact the institutional sustainability is vital for SDGs’ success. It is possible with the   optimum blend of horizontal and vertical linkages among the GROs and GRSOs.

10.0 Having  seen  the background  of sustainable  development and  the  MDGs,  an effort is made  to  understand  the relevance  and thematic  importance of  goal number  13,namely  climate   actions, which has huge impacts of SDGs goals.

The debate about climate change mitigation is an actively emerging new policy thrust area. Since the inception of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the key treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol-1995, climate change has become a huge challenge of the global community demanding collective and concerted action. Sadly it has failed to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions. Thus, it has failed the most vulnerable communities across the world.

This is the bone of contention belatedly globally. In fact, the recent American threat manifested in its withdrawal from climate change discussions would decelerate the process of development globally, and huge threat to achieving SDGs.

Climate Change & SD

11.0 Climate is the statistics of weather over long periods of time. It is measured by assessing the patterns of variation in temperaturehumidityatmospheric pressurewindprecipitation, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological variables in a given region over long periods of time. Climate differs from weather, in that weather only describes the short-term conditions of these variables in a given region. The sum total around the earth is the global climate. When there is a visible change in the   usual weather, it can be called as climate change. It is the change in earth’s climate. While weather can change in a few hours, climate may change over decades or hundreds of years.

12.0 Climate change knows no boundaries. It is not a new phenomenon. It  is  said that  by  2050 sea levels  may rise to  0.5 meters leading to  submerging  and inundating  many nations and  low  lying regions in the  world. It must be a cause of concern for us all.

13.0 There is  a  thick  blanket like  cover over the mother earth known as  ozone  layer. It  protects  the earth  from ultra violet  radiations. Too much of greenhouse gas emissions go up in the  atmosphere and  thus putting a hole in the ozone layer  umbrella  cover. Here it  is  more damaging as it is mostly  in the form of  CFC gases. Many greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and nitrous oxide, while others are synthetic. Those that are man-made include the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs) and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), as well as sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). There are many reasons or causes for   climate change. Some are man-made while others are nature’s contributions. Most are triggered by human activities. It may be due  to population explosion, resource  depletion, over  reliance on  fossil  fuel usage by  motor vehicles and  factories, volcano  eruptions, cutting   and  burning of  forest  cover, etc. This gas gets into air. It may be recalled that the biggest environmental risk is air pollution.

14.0 We must not lose sight of the ill effects of climate change. They  among others  include,  floods, landslides, tsunamis, earth  quakes,  forest  fires,  coastal  erosion, river bank  erosions, cyclones, droughts, avalanches,  etc.

15.0 Global warming is a daunting task for scientists and   economists alike. It may be worthwhile to consider seriously an integrated model to contain global warming. DICE—Dynamic Integrated Model of Climate and the Economy may be taken up seriously.(The Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy model, referred to as the DICE model or Dice model, is a computer-based integrated assessment model developed by William Nordhaus that “integrates in an end-to-end fashion the economics, carbon cycle, climate science, and impacts in a highly aggregated model that allows a weighing of the costs and benefits of taking steps to slow greenhouse warming.). This model may sort out emission problems, climate change and assessing damages on war footing. It must accord priority in evolving geo-engineering.

16.0 How to mitigate climate change?

Climate change is a reality and it is around us in everyday life, and must be contained and mitigated. The causes are to be seriously looked in to closely to slowly revert it. Planting of trees must be accorded top priority. Banning all vehicles which cause air pollution with its emissions is a must policy priority. Legal compulsions/actions without fail must be in place. Alternates like solar power maybe taken up on war footing. Houses, hostels, hospitals, hotels,  gaols, schools, colleges, theatres,  places  of  worship, courts,  airports, all  sorts  of buildings having  more than  2000  square  feet  areas,  canals, rivers, lakes  and  the like  to be  brought under the  coverage  of solar power  generation and may be given  lavish incentives for  its adoption and popularisation. The solar technology is now advanced and there is no reason for not pursuing it vigorously.

It is well known that many policy experts argue that renewable energy technologies and geo-engineering mechanisms that control carbon emissions can solve the world’s climate problem. Containing carbon emissions is the most effective form of mitigation. We  should  actively  consider implementing carbon credit and carbon tax regime rigorously. So, why politicians and policy makers are shying away from implementing this policy?

17.0 In Taiwan schools, waste management was introduced in the curriculum with discernible impact inculcating the sprit to contain the ill effects of climate change from a tender age. Other countries may introduce such climate change in the curriculum of schools. This would imbibe attitudinal and mental revolution among the children. Media  including  TV, news  papers and  social media to be  fully and profitably  used  to champion  to mitigating the ill  effects of climate change.

18.0 As clear  synergies exists between  climate change  and  sustainable development,  policy makers  must make conscious efforts to exploit it  for the benefit of  humanity starting from single individual to global level. Another thrust  area is  to make use of  Artificial Intelligence (AI) to  help  farmers under the  aegis  of  ICRISAT  and  Micro Soft under AI  sowing App, etc to mitigate the  ill effects  of climate change.

19.0 Here  one  should note  the emergence of  knowledge  society to  augment the process  of  sustainable  development and  to  contain the  ill  effects of climate change. It would be a handmaid to mitigate the green gas emissions. In fact, knowledge   society and knowledge workers are synonymous. It was first used by the Princeton economist Prof Machlup in 1960.Later Peter Drucker used it a couple of times. In 1958 John Galbraith wrote,” The Affluent Society”—financial security. In knowledge society a large number will have social affluence—social standing.

20.0 Primary sector is the back bone of the economy in all developing   economies. Conscious  policy  efforts are required to make  agriculture  and  allied  activities to be remunerative as the  opportunity cost is tending to zero for  all those who are  engaged in the primary sector. Farmer suicides are national shame for any civilized government. At least marginal returns must be equal to marginal cost. Primary sector admittedly can leverage the success of the implementation of SDGs.

21.0  Both knowledge   society  and primary sector to be holistically woven together to make the  sustainable  development  a  success  story and knowledge   society  to  contain the ill effects of climate change.

22.0 People are to be educated to use less water; shut taps; turn off TVS, Air cons, fridge sand lights when not required. For this, sensitisation  programmes  are  to be   conducted  in  all  villages and  village  clusters,  the world over with  time bound programme  schedules. NGOs, GROs and GRSOs may be fully deployed to make the very best for better future.

23.0  As  the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)  2002, concluded, resilience in  building in  social- ecological  systems and  strategies  is the need  of  the  hour. Fifteen years have gone!

24.0 Regional  economic organisations like  Kerala Economic Association, Indian Economic Association, Indian Society  of Agricultural Economics  and the like  are to  assist in the  design of integrated  responses and to exploit  synergies between climate  change and  other polices like  biodiversity and  anti – desertification for  ensuring  sustainable development.

25.0 Flagging Follow up Actions:

The follow up action agenda is primarily for India. It can be generalised for other developing countries too taking into consideration location specific details.

* A nationwide cap on coal use may be used judiciously to contain green gas emissions. Carrot and stick policy with command and   control measures may be used to rein in pollution as opposed to subsidies or taxes. An integrated approach must be adopted within a given time frame.

* Both knowledge society and primary sector to be holistically woven together to make the sustainable development a success story and knowledge society to contain the ill effects of climate change.

* Regional  economic organisations like  Kerala Economic Association (KEA), Indian Economic Association, Indian  Society  of Agricultural Economics  and the like  are to  assist in the  design of integrated  responses and to exploit  synergies between climate  change and  other polices like  biodiversity and  anti –desertification for  ensuring  sustainable development. SDF is willing to  act as  a nodal agency to  augment the  process  on demand.

* Colleges under the leadership of NSS and Economic Associations to launch plastic free community around.  Say “NO TO PLASTICS” use degradable like used news papers!

* Under the NSS each college to adopt 10 schools around to create awareness on the ill effects of climate change and to make the homes of students plastic and litter free. It should be time bound and reported in the media for all.

* NSS and Economic  Associations of  colleges to tie  up  with  local  clubs and    such other  units like  Rotary, YMCA, YWCA,  Lions, NGOs, SNDP, NSS, Christian and Muslim youth groups, etc. to create  awareness   on the  theme  by organising special  seminars.

* Self Help Groups (SHGs) may be sensitised along with local self government bodies like Municipalities and Gram Panchayats to make their area of operation litter free and plastic free. They would sensitise the residents to adopt solar and bio–gas energy on a wider scale. Local TV channels need to play a big role in helping in this campaign.

* Campaigns like Swatch (SWACHH) Bharath may be taken up in each school and college and funds may be ear marked by the government and University Grants Commission (UGC) to make India emission free, plastic free and litter free.

* Under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) banks and  companies may  associate  with local self  government  bodies and NGOs, GROs and GRSOs as  well as  NSS  and Economic Association of  Colleges to augment the  process to mitigate the ill effects of climate  change.

* Policy changes may be brought about to include climate change as a major theme in the curriculum of schools emphasising the  slogan of green and clean energy, etc. while focusing on sustainable development. The classic example in sight is the experience and experiment done at the MACFAST (MACFAST model of Green and Clean Energy).

* Time is the essence here. We are now running out of time to save humanity. Ask yourself what you as the audience here can do to make mother earth a better place to live for ourselves and our generations to come. We have only one mother earth; no new planets have been discovered for planetary migration. You decide if we should prosper or perish.

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